Canadian Experience Class selection criteria - Qualifying work experience

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada staff. It is posted on the Department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

Work experience need not be continuous under the CEC.

Applicants do not have to be employed at the time of application, but they must have temporary status during the qualifying period of work experience acquired in Canada [R87.1(3)(c)].

The “Employment Requirements” listed in the NOC occupational description are not applicable.

Any periods of self-employment or unauthorized work will not be included in calculating the period of work experience [R87.1(3)(b)]. A person who has worked in Canada without authorization has failed to comply with A30(1), and on that basis could be found inadmissible under A41.

Note: Work experience acquired while under implied status will be considered as eligible work experience under the CEC, provided the applicant continued to work in Canada under the same conditions as their original work permit until a decision was made on their application for a work permit extension.

An allowance for a reasonable period of vacation time will generally be made in calculating the period of qualifying work experience (e.g., a two-week period of paid vacation leave within a given 52-week period in which the applicant was engaged in qualifying work experience). An allowance for normal vacation time during a period of qualifying work experience cannot be used as a substitute or proxy for meeting the in-Canada element of the work experience requirement (i.e., work experience obtained outside Canada will not be considered as though the applicant had been on a period of vacation in order to be counted as part of the period of in-Canada work experience). While officers will account for a reasonable period of vacation time in calculating the period of qualifying work experience in Canada, each application is considered on its own merits with a final decision based on a review of all the information available to the officer at the time of decision.

Assessing work experience - Applications received before January 2, 2013

For the Temporary Foreign Worker Stream, the applicant must have at least 24 months of full-time,  Canadian skilled work experience (or the equivalent in part-time work experience) in one or more NOC 0, A or B occupations , within the 36 months before the date of application receipt.

For the Post-Graduation Stream, the applicant must have at least 12 months of full-time , Canadian  skilled work experience (or the equivalent in part-time work experience) in one or more NOC 0, A or B occupations, within the 24 months before the date of application receipt [R87.1(2)(a)(i)-(ii)]. This experience must be acquired after they have completed the required program of study and obtained a Canadian educational credential. (Work performed under the Off-Campus Work Permit Program or on a co-op work term does not count).

Assessing work experience - Applications received on or after January 2, 2013

Applicants must have at least 12 months of full-time, Canadian skilled work experience (or the equivalent in part-time work experience) in one or more NOC 0, A or B occupations within the 36 months before the date of application receipt [R87.1(2)(a)].

In addition, during that period of employment, the applicant must have:

  • performed the actions described in the lead statement for the occupation(s) as set out in the occupational description of the NOC [R87.1(2)(b)]; and
  • performed a substantial number of the main duties, including all the essential duties, of the occupation(s) as set out in the occupational description of the NOC [R87.1(2)(c)].

Any period of employment when the applicant was engaged in full-time study will not be included in calculating the period of qualifying work experience (e.g., work experience gained through co-op work permits, off-campus work permits while a full-time student and on-campus work permits). [R87.1(3)(a)]. Officers should verify the work permit information in GCMS.

Determining an applicant’s employment status

Applicants under the CEC must satisfy a CIC officer that they meet all program requirements [R87.1]. Any period of self-employment shall not be included in calculating the period of qualifying work experience under the CEC [R87.1(3)(b)]. As such, the CEC requires that applicants demonstrate they acquired skilled work experience in Canada through authorized employment by a third party.

As provided for in the CEC Document Checklist, principal applicants are requested to provide documentary evidence of their work experience in Canada through a combination of: a copy of their most recent work permit (unless they are work-permit exempt), copies of their most recent T4 tax information slips and Notice of Assessment (NOA) issued by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) or a sufficient combination of other supporting documentation, and employer letters of reference for all periods of qualifying work experience claimed in the application.

Canadian employers are responsible for deducting and remitting Canada Pension Plan (CPP) contributions, Employment Insurance (EI) premiums, and income tax from remuneration or other amounts they pay to their employees to the CRA. They must also provide employees with a record of their remuneration and deductions in the form of a T4 tax information slip. The T4 slip is therefore key documentary evidence for the vast majority of CEC applicants to demonstrate that they were in an employer-employee work relationship during their period of qualifying work experience in Canada.

However, there is no obligation under the regulations that CEC applicants provide a T4 tax information slip or NOA specifically with their application, and these particular documents cannot be considered conclusive evidence or the only evidence accepted for the purposes of substantiating whether an applicant has qualifying Canadian work experience. As such, in the absence of a T4 tax information slip or NOA, documents which may help substantiate the applicant’s work experience in Canada could include a record or letter of employment from the Canadian employer, work contracts and pay stubs.

In all cases, the onus is on the applicant to establish that they meet the CEC program criteria at the time of their application. All applicants are required to provide satisfactory evidence of their work experience in Canada, including the fact that they were in an employer-employee relationship during their period of qualifying work experience.

Factors to consider – employee vs. self-employed

In determining whether an applicant under the CEC was an employee or a self-employed individual during their period of qualifying work experience in Canada, CIC officers should consider factors such as :

  • the degree of the worker’s control or autonomy in terms of how and when work is performed, and the method(s) used to do the work;
  • whether the worker owns and/or provides tools and equipment to accomplish the work;
  • the degree to which the worker has to perform the work personally and whether the worker has the option of subcontracting work or hiring others to help and assist with completing the work;
  • the degree of financial risk assumed by the worker, including whether the worker is required to make any investment in order to complete the work or provide the service and whether the worker is free to make business decisions that affect his/her ability to realize a profit or incur a loss (as opposed to the opportunity to earn commissions or other productivity bonuses); and
  • any other relevant factors, such as written contracts.

Additional details regarding each of the above factors, and indicators that can be used when determining whether an individual is an employee or self-employed, are available in the Employee or Self-employed? CRA guide.

Determination of the degree of control can be difficult when examining the employment of professionals such as engineers, physicians and information technology consultants. Given their expertise and specialized training, they may need little or no specific direction in their daily activities. When examining the factor of control, it is necessary to focus on both the payer’s control over the worker’s daily activities, and the payer’s influence over the worker. There are also certain occupations in which individuals may be either self-employed or in an employer-employee relationship depending on the specific circumstances of their employment. More information on the determination of a worker’s employment status for a number of specific employment categories is available on the CRA website.

Generally speaking, consultants/contractors are considered to be self-employed individuals in a “contract for services” business relationship. For example, independent contractors in the financial, real estate and business service industries. Similarly, individuals who hold substantial ownership and/or exercise management control of a business for which they are also employed are generally considered to be self-employed.

If a prospective applicant is not sure of their employment status, and does not have the documentation set out above, they may choose to request a ruling from the CRA to have that status determined. Such a ruling will state whether, in the view of the CRA, a worker is an employee or self-employed, and whether or not that worker’s employment is pensionable or insurable. A worker may request a ruling by sending a letter or completed Form CPT1, Request for a Ruling as to the Status of a Worker under the Canada Pension Plan and/or the Employment Insurance Act to their tax services office. This ruling may thereafter be submitted to CIC to supplement a CEC application.

Each application under the CEC is to be considered on its own merits, with a final decision based on a review of all the information available to the CIC officer at the time of decision. While a CRA ruling on an applicant’s employment status will be given due consideration by a CIC officer, such a ruling will not constitute conclusive evidence. The final decision as to the employment status of the applicant for the purposes of meeting CEC requirements rests with the CIC officer.

Bridging open work permits

Foreign nationals in Canada who have received a positive determination of eligibility for processing decision under the CEC, and whose current temporary resident work permit is due to expire, may require facilitation that enables them to maintain their status and continue working in Canada while they await a final decision on their application for permanent residence.

Learn more about bridging open work permits

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